As Featured In Fatstacks

Security in Ecommerce

Published Categorized as Ecommerce Stores

Ecommerce has grown tremendously in recent years, with global sales predicted to hit $4.5 billion in 2021. The success has inspired malicious actors to try different ways of compromising the security of eCommerce websites using sophisticated tools. Ecommerce sites are attractive to cybercriminals due to their large troves of sensitive personal data and stocks of valuable goods.

The Main Threats to Ecommerce Websites

DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks involve hackers overwhelming website servers with a flood of traffic from untraceable IP addresses. The most powerful attacks can cause a site to go offline, exposing it to even more attacks, such as malware infections. DDoS attacks are common during peak sales periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The attacks pose significant threats in terms of lost revenue and damaged reputation due to customers losing confidence and trust in the business. Experts note that most eCommerce sites experience at least one DDoS attack a day, meaning that it is a major threat to their viability.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is a major threat to eCommerce sites and is constantly evolving. Most attacks occur in the form of chargeback scams where cybercriminals acquire credit card details of unsuspecting individuals and proceed to order goods online. The eCommerce website ships orders to the fraudster’s address only to get chargebacks from credit card companies indicating that the sale was a fraud. The trader is forced to refund the credit card owner when the goods have already been shipped. It is hard to for sites that process several transactions every day to detect this type of fraud.


Malware is a program that attempts to infiltrate a system and gain access to critical infrastructure or cause damage to a computer network. It can take the form of SQL injections or cross-site scripting. Once the cybercriminals have infiltrated the system, they can tamper with the database, fake their identities, take control of the system, or send malicious emails. Malware attacks have the potential to disrupt business or cause a substantial loss of revenue.


E-skimming is a hacking method where cybercriminals steal personal data such as credit card details from the payment processing applications on an eCommerce website. The criminals may access the site through third parties, cross-site scripting, brute force attacks, or phishing. This method enables hackers to capture customer payment details in real-time.

Malicious Bots

Malicious bots are automated programs designed to cause damage to targeted eCommerce websites. They attempt to mimic human behavior online and act like real users. According to recent research, bots account for about 20% of all eCommerce traffic. Malicious bots pose a security threat to eCommerce businesses in several ways.

Hackers can use bots to test credit card numbers repeatedly until they find the right password codes. After obtaining this information, hackers can buy whatever they want online using stolen identities. Hackers can also buy login details on the dark web and use bots to test different login combinations on eCommerce sites until they are successful. Unsavory competitors can also send price scrapping bots to monitor your business operations and strategy then use the information to undercut you in the market.

Strategies for Preventing Attacks

Implement Strong Authentication Mechanisms

A recent report by Verizon indicated that 37% of all identity theft breaches result from weak or exposed credentials. Therefore, eCommerce websites should educate employees and customers on the need to implement strong passwords. Users should not share password details and use a variety of logins for different accounts. Further, eCommerce websites should employ 2-factor, multi-factor, and 2-step authentication on their websites. These methods require users to include another verification method in addition to the username and password. The additional verification may be a one-time code sent to the user’s email or phone.

Protect Your Network

Make sure your network and all the connected devices are protected from cyberattacks with anti-virus software and firewalls. Further, implement Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), Transport Layer Security (TLS), and HTTPS authentication on your website (if this isn’t currently in place, I’d be asking why the hell not?! It’s not 2010 ladies and gents). The SSL encrypts and authenticates links between networked computers. With an SSL certificate, you can move to HTTPs, which assures customers that your website is secure.

Comply with Credit Card Policies

All enterprises that handle credit card transactions must be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). The PCI-DSS protects cardholders against fraud and security breaches. Complying with the 12 requirements established by the PCI Security Standards Council ensures that all your systems are secure and can prevent most card-based frauds.

Make Sure Your Site Is Up to Date

Cybercriminals often identify vulnerabilities in a system before launching attacks. If you are using on-premise eCommerce solutions, you will need to implement updates regularly, patch vulnerabilities, and fix bugs. Making regular security updates ensures that you are always ahead of the criminals. Alternatively, you can join a cloud-based hosting service that will handle all your security needs.

Preventing Bot Attacks

You can suppress bot attacks by implementing CAPTCHAS on your website. CAPTCHAS are effective at preventing bots from registering fake accounts and accessing sensitive data. It may be annoying to some customers, but is effective as the first line of defense against malicious bots.

Wondering how to protect your WooCommerce store?

Take a look at our WooCommerce Security Checklist.

By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.